When you are a leader, the most important thing you do is communicate. You communicate with your employees, coworkers, and other leaders. If you effectively communicate with others, you will likely be an effective leader.
Is It Important to Effectively Communicate?
A little while back, I was asked to attend a conference. I was excited and knew it would be a great experience. There were several presentations on a variety of topics related to leadership and how to effectively communicate your message. The majority of the presentations were exceptional and very beneficial to all in attendance.
Don’t Be This One!
There was one presentation, however, that stood out for the wrong reasons. The speaker was not prepared to effectively communicate his message. With the focus of the conference on leadership and how to be a great leader and communicator, this speaker got up and spoke about the politics of education.
His topic was a interesting, but didn’t fit with the purpose of the conference. In addition, he didn’t identify where he was going with his presentation.
Lack of Clarity
As I listened, many questions came to my mind. “What is the focus of his presentation? Where is he going with this? How is he going to relate this to leadership? How many points is he going to talk about?”
After he finished speaking, I asked the others at my table what they thought. They also all felt lost. None of us were clear on where he was going with his speech. Needless to say, the speaker didn’t effectively communicate his message.
This Happens Too Often
If you are anything like me, you have probably sat through a presentation before like the one I mentioned. The speaker probably had several points, but didn’t hook you from the beginning. The speaker didn’t effectively communicate the message.
I had a hard time figuring out the context of his presentation, his main points, the direction of his speech, etc. As he started his presentation, he failed to let the audience know the topic and its relevance. The audience quickly became completely lost. From there, they began thinking about other things.
How You Can Effectively Communicate
So how can you effectively communicate your message to avoid losing your audience? This can be done in many ways. One approach I recommend is Twain’s Rule, “Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em. Then tell ’em. Finally, tell ’em what you told ’em.” So how does this approach apply to communication?
“Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em.”
Start by letting your audience know what you are going to talk about. Explain the context of your message and the points you intend to make. This gives your audience a reference point to start from. Your audience then has an outline to follow which helps them stay on track.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to give away your main conclusions. You can also add in some hooks to keep them listening through it all. The key is to give them enough so they have context but not too much that they lose interest.
Once you’ve provided a rough outline, effectively communicate your message. Stay on point with your message and follow through on the points you’ve laid out.
Use stories as appropriate to convey your message, but don’t get sidetracked with irrelevant stories that don’t convey your message. If you go off topic, you will likely lose your audience and it will be difficult to bring them back. They will likely tune you out and that will be it.
“Tell ’em what you told ’em.”
In your conclusion, summarize your points to close the loop. Re-emplasize the invitations and/or action items while the topics are fresh in their minds. Finish with an invitation for everyone to follow through on their commitments.
This approach is beneficial in a formal presentation. It also enables you to effectively communicate your message in other settings. I’ve used this method in meetings to keep everyone on task.
Have you used this approach before? How has it helped you to communicate your message? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!